All about rice nutrition, plus a delicious recipe for low sugar rice pudding!
When it comes to versatile foods, rice is definitely towards the top of the list. Just about every cuisine incorporates rice in their dishes. But when it comes to eating balanced meals to lose weight, how does rice fit in?
Like most grains, rice mainly contains carbohydrates, which can help balance a meal of chicken and veggies. Rice can be easily flavored with seasonings, broth or just a little sauce, which means you don’t need add as many calories to spice up or meal.
There a lots of different varieties of rice, so let’s compare and break down the basic groups
Types of Rice
Long grain Rice
This is white rice, and the whole grain kernel is intact. Popular varieties include Jasmine and Basmati. Because the grain hasn’t been broken the rice does not stick together, but instead is fluffy when cooked correctly. (check out this post for calories of cooked rice)
Medium grain Rice
It’s the same as long grain except the rice kernels are broken into halves. You might also see it called Arborio. Because the grain has been broken some of the starch on the inside is released and creates a more creamy, sticky rice. Medium grain is often used for risotto.
Short grain Rice
Think medium grain but smaller broken pieces. It gets very sticky, like rice used for sushi.
Instant or parboiled Rice
Normally it’s long or medium grain. The reason it cooks so fast is that it’s partially cooked already. If you’re wanting to cook the rice with seasonings or in broth, it won’t pick up quite as much flavor as the others, but will be more mild. Most instant rice can even be cooked in the microwave. I cooked a cup of instant rice in 6 minute.
This is whole grain rice. It still has the outer layer bran, which is where the fiber and vitamins are. Because of this it takes longer to cook and it has a stronger flavor, so it isn’t seasoned as easily. Because of the bran, it stays pretty firm after cooked and each grain stay separate. It’s hard to get sticky brown rice. You’ll see this used for burrito or teriyaki bowls with veggies and meat.
Although this is actually a different plant, it often gets grouped together with all the varieties of rice since it has a similar taste, look and texture. Wild rice is a whole grain and is very similar to brown in how it cooks and the texture. It has a little different taste often described as nutty and is more flavorful as brown rice. You’ll often see it made into salads with veggies and a dressing.
Nutrients in Rice
Brown rice naturally has B vitamins and minerals like manganese, selenium and magnesium. Some white rice is fortified with folate and other B vitamins.
Brown rice naturally has more fiber, but both brown and white rice have resistant starch. This means that some of the carbohydrates in rice doesn’t break down as quickly.
This can be beneficial for two reasons. First, because it takes longer to break down, it can help you feel full for longer. And second, because some does not fully break down until the large intestine, helping feed the gut microbiome.1
- white rice, 1 cup of rice makes ~3 cups of cooked rice. This is the same regardless of the liquid you use, water, broth etc
- Brown rice, 1 cup of rice makes ~2 cups of cooked rice
- Instant rice, 1 cup of rice makes ~2 cups of cooked rice
There are different methods you can use. If you want fluffy rice, don’t stir it while it’s cooking. But if you want more sticky rice, stir, this helps release the starches that makes it sticky.
You can sauté the rice with seasonings, a little oil and even diced vegetables, then add the liquid and let it cook. The easiest way just might be using a rice cooker or pressure cooker, like an instapot to get perfect rice without having to worry about it burning on the stove.
Ways to include rice in your diet
Rice can go well with just about any meal. You can add it plain, cook it in a broth or with seasonings to add some flavor. When you’re short on time, instant rice can be handy. There are a few types, dried and frozen.
- Dried instant rice normally is in a box which makes it easy to prep the amount you want.
- Frozen instant rice ones come in small bags that you just microwave. Each bag has about 3-4 servings
Rice bowls are an easy way to put together a quick meal. The basic ingredients I like to use are rice, protein of meat or tofu, few different vegetables and a sauce. You can make so many different combinations, like a greek style with olives, tomatoes, tzatziki and chicken or a southwest inspired bowl with corn, bell pepper, ground turkey and adobe sauce. You can use a salad dressing to top your bowl, I like green goddess dressing for a fresh herb flavor.
You can include rice in sweet dishes too
Make a warm or cold porridge with rice, milk of choice and fruit, I even added some protein powder and chia seeds to this one. Plus this is a great way to use left over rice from dinner last night.
Rice pudding is not only tasty but packs some extra nutrients from the milk and egg. Try this low sugar rice pudding. It’s great topped with fresh fruit.
Low Sugar Rice Pudding
- 1 cup instant rice
- 3 cup low fat milk
- 1/3 cup monk fruit sweetener with erythritol
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 2 large eggs
- Mix milk, rice zero calorie sugar, and cinnamon in sauce pan and bring to a boil, then simmer for 6 minutes
- while it's simmering, whip eggs and vanilla in bowl
- once milk and rice has simmered, slowly add some of the mixture to the eggs while stirring, repeat until the egg mixture is warm
- slowly add egg mixture to milk and rice in sauce pan and stir until it starts to thicken
- Allow to sit for 30 minutes to thicken more.
- optional: top with whipped cream and fruit